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“Cetaqua’s vocation is to transfer the knowledge generated in the research and innovation environment so that it has an impact on the water sector”

Carlos Montero interview – World Creativity and Innovation Day

Recently, Cetaqua Barcelona has been accredited as a Technological Innovation Support Center. This recognition is granted by the Ministry of Science and Innovation to technological centers that transfer the scientific knowledge generated so that companies can apply it in their strategy and turn it into a tangible reality.

On World Creativity and Innovation Day, we interview Carlos Montero, General Manager of Cetaqua, Water Technology Center.

Technological Innovation Support Centers are the intermediaries between knowledge generation and companies. What does this recognition mean for Cetaqua?

Cetaqua’s vocation is to transfer the knowledge generated in the research and innovation environment so that it has an impact on the water sector, whether with citizens, the administration, the environment or companies. This accreditation confirms the effectiveness of our vocation.

How important is knowledge transfer in Cetaqua’s strategy? Any examples?

The transfer begins at the ideation stage. To achieve this, we involve business experts in the earliest stages of project conceptualization. This allows that when the result arrives, it is already oriented to solve a need, and the user expects it. Ideally, the entire project is carried out with effective monitoring of its applicability. A recent example is the Reveal project, for detection and monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater, where together with our partners we developed the methodology for detecting the virus in wastewater and built algorithms that make it possible to anticipate the evolution of the pandemic, city by city and even neighborhood by neighborhood. This was tested in real operations, and once the results were validated, it was put into service for decision making.

It is becoming increasingly necessary for companies to incorporate technological innovation into their strategy. What are the fundamental lines that should be focused on?

Companies in the water sector have had fairly stable lines of technological development for decades: water resources, production, reuse, networks, treatment… these lines will remain because they are the core of the activity, but without forgetting that management is of a physical element (water). Digitalization has the capacity to transform the way water and environmental management is carried out. The commitments and needs of sustainability and circular economy are now vehicular, and therefore the lines of “classic” development must be oriented to serve environmental, economic and social sustainability objectives.

Cetaqua’s centers in Spain (Barcelona, Andalusia and Galicia) have also received UNE 166002:2014 certification in R&D&I Management. What does it imply?

Cetaqua has been developing its own innovation management system that is highly adapted to our work. This translates into efficiency in obtaining European funds that are well above average, together with an excellent capacity to generate valuable results and transfer them. With this certification, we formalize our tools and working methods, which makes it easier for new recruits to learn and align themselves with this methodology from day one.

What are the next steps/challenges you face?

We have achieved several challenges as Cetaqua: consolidation, leadership in water and, more recently, the intersection with digital technologies. The key now is agility, understood as flexibility and adaptability to the market, with more open and collaborative projects with users, clients and operators, minimizing the time between ideation and transfer and implementation.